Deciding on what to wear to church can be intimidating, especially if you’re a new attendee.
Not to worry though! You’ve come to the right place. Allow us at Church Helper to help you figure out what to wear to church using three helpful guidelines plus some outfit ideas for most church activities.
Before that, let’s look into the debate of whether it matters what we wear to church.
On What To Wear To Church: Does It Matter?
The answer to this question can and will vary across most churches. For example, the dress code in the Vatican City is used by many as a guide when entering any chapel under the Catholic Church. Other churches may not have a dress code at all. The arbitrariness of what to wear to church brings many Christians to wonder if it even matters what we wear.
To be clear, we’re talking about regular church attendees. Newcomers and visitors won’t be expected to know—let alone follow—the dress code of a church. And certainly, we wouldn’t be eyeing a poor person up and down for entering the church not dressed in a suit or a fancy fit and flare dress.
Framing The Debate
Now, going back to our question, you’ll find two sides to this matter.
On the one hand, people believe that as long as in our hearts, we have the right intent (to worship and praise God through our worship service), we can wear what we want when we attend church.
On the other, people believe that God deserves our best. If on this mortal realm, we have a dress code when meeting a king, even more so should we prepare how we present ourselves when meeting the King of all the earth and the heavens.
Our Stand On The Matter
Let us preface this by saying this is our perspective and not at all a general rule we are imposing on everyone. By all means, if your church requires you to follow a certain dress code, please do so.
If you don’t have a code to follow, then regard our stand as a suggestion you can take into consideration. We’re not talking about “just clothes” but the way we present ourselves. And we’re aware how this subject can be very close to home for some people.
With that said, we here at Church Helper fall on the “have the right heart, then wear what you want” side of the debate. Of course, we understand and respect the other side of the debate.
There is merit to dressing your best when going to church. It sets apart the day we spend for church service, as a special day for God.
But our stand remains that having the right heart is leagues beyond important than what we’re wearing to church. Regardless of our clothes, we should always treat our worship services with special regard.
If dressing your best helps with this, go ahead. Though, what’s “best” is quite subjective and won’t always be captured by a specific dress code.
So, a better way to go about it is to wear to church what you believe is best for you—what makes you comfortable and ready to worship God.
If wearing jeans makes you feel more like yourself than a stuffy suit or a fancy dress, go for it. As long as you’re well within the three guidelines we’ll be talking about, you don’t need to worry too much about your church outfit.
On the point of “meeting the King,” our church services aren’t the only times we meet with God. He’s always with us for we are his children. It’s hard to imagine that our Father will refuse to meet us if what we’re wearing isn’t up to code.
3 Helpful Guidelines
After all our talk above about “wear what you want,” it could be confusing as to why we’re now talking about guidelines on what to wear to church. But keep in mind that as guidelines, these are recommendations and not hard-and-fast rules.
These guidelines do have a biblical basis, which, as you’ll see, teaches us what to wear not just to church but to anywhere.
1. Avoid immodesty.
Though the subject of clothing in the bible in terms of modesty and respectability are mostly addressed to women (1 Timothy 2:9-10; 1 Peter 3:3-4), we can all agree that modesty matters for all Christians. Though we may not always agree on what is or isn’t modest, that it matters is irrefutable.
Clothing that accentuates sexuality most certainly has no place in the church. These types of clothing are better reserved in the privacy of homes and mostly for the eyes of the spouse.
2. Keep it simple.
We can’t pinpoint a specific verse that tells us anything about dressing casually. But we can read a verse that reminds us to avoid adornment (1 Peter 3:3)—that is wearing “too much.” In the verse, the braiding of hair, gold jewelry, and clothing were mentioned.
Placing this in the context of our modern times tells us to avoid flashy clothes and accessories (e.g. statement earrings). When your accessories, clothes, and/or make ups are excessive, they become a symbol of pride and vanity. This takes away from the humble and gentle spirit that God desires us to be.
Simple accessories, muted to moderate colors over loud colors, and a light fragrance over a heavy perfume are some quick tips to keep in mind when getting ready for church.
3. Focus on God.
Place God at the center of all that you do and you will not go wrong. This is true for so many aspects of life, including what we wear. Our church attire should help us keep our focus on God.
This is true even more so for church service, as this is the time dedicated to worshiping and praising him together with all his children.
If what you’re planning to wear makes you focus more on yourself than on God, then reevaluate each piece of clothing and accessory.
What To Wear For Online Church
Before we head to the outfits, let’s talk about what we should wear if we’re attending online church.
Since we’re mostly in the comfort of our homes when attending online, it’s easy to fall into the thinking of wearing loungewear or straight-up jammies. At most, others attending will only see you from the shoulders up, right?
Review the three guidelines again, especially the third guideline. Is it at all helpful for your focus on God to attend online church without even the slightest of preparation?
Hopefully, your answer to this is no. Wear what you’re comfortable in while also keeping in mind that what you wear should help you keep your focus on God.
Now, we’re not a fashion blog by any means. But we’d still like to offer some church outfit ideas that can help you put together fits you can easily wear and be comfortable in, so you’ll spend more time thinking about God than on your church attire.
It’s easy to say, oh, “many women wear dresses to church” and that’s it. But not all women are comfortable in a dress or a skirt. We’ll make sure to take note of that in the outfit ideas we’ll present for what to wear to church.
Now, what to wear to church can be less complex for men. To be sure though, there’s still room for some tweaks here and there to dress your most comfortably when attending church.
Throughout, the process of putting together an outfit, keep in mind the three guidelines. So, nothing over the top (like over-the-top shoes) and immodest (sheer, see-through materials; body-hugging clothes).
Also, avoid wearing anything considered taboo (like bright colors to a funeral).
Casual Church Outfit Ideas
Casual church outfits are a nice go-to when you feel uncomfortable with anything leaning “too polished.”
Here are a variety of options to dress casually:
- A simple opaque T-shirt
- Spaghetti straps or tank tops under a cardigan or denim jacket
- A sweater for transitional seasons
- Crop tops matched with high waist bottoms
- Skirts (if you’re comfortable; at least knee-length will be best)
- Mini skirts (structured; if flowy, wear tights underneath)
- Wear longer skirts (midi and maxi) if that’s your style
- For transitional seasons, a pair of tights under the skirt can help keep you warm
- If you don’t wear skirts at all, wear jeans (skinny jeans can work, just make sure to balance it out with a looser top)
- Printed midi and maxi dresses (to look more relaxed and easy-going)
- Mini dress (make sure the skirt part of the dress is a lot more structured than flowy)
- Wear a pair of tights under flowy mini dresses to keep them modest
- Flip flops (structured over flimsy rubber flip flops)
- Sandals with a tiny bit of heel, low platforms, and slight wedges
- Simple sneakers also work
- For transitional seasons, ankle boots or calf boots are good options
- A simple opaque T-shirt, 3/4 sleeve, or printed short-sleeve shirt
- A pullover, sweatshirt, or sweater for transitional seasons
- Flip flops (structured over flimsy)
- Simple sneakers
- Chelsea boots or lace-up boots for transitional seasons
Smart-Casual Church Outfit Ideas
This is best for a relaxed yet polished look. The key is to balance structured pieces with more relaxed ones (e.g. tailored trousers with a T-shirt).
Here are a variety of options for putting together smart-casual fits for church:
- A nice blouse
- Long sleeves with simple patterns work too
- Structured cardigans or slouchy blazers over T-shirts or sleeveless/tank tops
- A pair of black pants or jeans (as opposed to blue jeans)
- Wide-legged tailored trouser pants (paired with a relaxed top)
- A pleated skirt (minimal to no patterns)
- A midi skirt (minimal to no patterns)
- A midi or maxi dress (minimal to no patterns)
- A classic simple black dress or white dress
- A structured but not body-hugging mini dress (with a pair of tights underneath)
- Closed-toe shoes (like ballerina flats, mules, or slides) with kitten heels or block heels
- Open-toe shoes with kitten heels or block heels
- Dressier boots for the transitional seasons
- Polo shirts or short-sleeved shirts
- Long-sleeved shirts
- Cardigans or blazers over T-shirts
- Wear jeans or pants that are more structured than slouchy
- Tailored trousers
- Loafers or oxford leather shoes
- Simple sneakers
- Dressier boots for transitional seasons
Semi-Formal to Formal Church Outfit Ideas
For dressier events like thanksgiving or choir concerts, you’ll need to prepare a semi-formal attire. Only a handful of church events will require you to wear formal attire. These are usually reserved for white-tie events. Choosing between semi-formal and formal will depend on the event and the venue.
Items of clothing that look simple can be worn to semi-formal or formal events when they’re made of the right material (velvet, suede, silk, satin, etc.). Also, ladies opting to wear pants will find that they’ll need to wear matching sets to look semi-formal or formal; the same goes if you’re wearing a skirt.
Tops & Bottoms
- Power suits
- Fancy coordinates
- Fancy flowy dress
- Fit and flare dress
- Tea-length or floor-length gowns
Tops & Bottoms
- White pants with a white coat
- All black suit
- Navy blue suit
- Dark brown suit
- Leather oxfords (e.g. white shoes [worn with white socks], black shoes [worn with black socks], brown shoes [worn with brown socks and a brown belt])
Hopefully, our discussion today helped make it easier for you to decide what to wear to church. With tons of church outfit ideas to try, you can dress the most comfortably, so you can keep your focus on God when attending church services.
While you’re here, you might be interested in reading our previous post.